Will be the first.

Seriously, liberal argumentation generally consists of sloganeering, half-truths, utopian fantasies, and ad hominem attacks. Pretty much every argument that I’ve ever heard advanced to buttress “gay marriage” falls neatly into one or more of these categories.

Today, USA Today came out with an editorial piece favoring the decision by the ultra-leftist Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn California’s Prop 8. By the way, Stephen Reinhardt, who wrote this opinion, and the concurring judge (it was a 2-1 decision of a subcommittee of the court, not the entire court’s decision, by the way) were appointed by Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. One needs no further reason never to vote Democrat than the mockery of the Constitution that generally tends to take place at the hands of the activist jurists that are almost always the choice of liberal Democrats. But I digress…

I will be sending an editorial response to USA Today in a few moments—who knows if they’ll actually print it—but I reproduce it here in its entirety, for your consideration:

Questions for supporters of gay marriage:

If the issue is equal rights, can you provide the given name of one person that a heterosexual could marry that a homosexual could not? If not, is the issue really equal rights, or is the issue the very definition of marriage itself?

Are legal rights, such as medical privileges, adoption rights, tax benefits, a key aspect of marriage? Are these factors generally a big concern to people who marry?

If not approving gay marriage constitutes a denial of equal rights to homosexuals, does not approving group marriage constitute a denial of equal rights to bisexuals? For that matter, is there not more historical precedent, and logical support, for polygamy than for gay marriage?

Do we establish that “gay marriage harms no one else” by fiat, or could there be a real sense in which it does harm the marriages of others?

Finally, should gay marriage become the law of the land, will you support the rights of my wife and me, married 30 years, to ask the state to no longer recognize our marriage, given our heartfelt religious conviction that gay marriage does indeed cheapen marriage?

I would really, really relish a respectful conversation with any supporter of “gay marriage” who is willing to honestly tackle these questions.

Here’s betting it’ll never happen…

55 responses »

  1. ken says:

    You may find that you don’t get replies because this site seems to be pretty restrictive (and not very informative about the restrictions)

    • Byron says:

      Sorry about that; not sure why that is. I haven’t intentionally set any filters to block out stuff. Funny, it’s an “equal opportunity” blocker; I’ve had all kinds of comments end up over the years being blocked. Beats me!

  2. ken says:

    Apparently I’ll have to address your questions in pieces (otherwise this cite thinks I’m “spammy”).

    “can you provide the given name of one person that a heterosexual could marry that a homosexual could not?”

    A straight man can marry the person he loves, a gay man cannot.

    “is the issue really equal rights?”

    Yes, the issue is having the law treat gay couples the same (equally) as straight couples.

    “Are legal rights, such as medical privileges, adoption rights, tax benefits, a key aspect of marriage?”

    For some people they are (as well as a long list of other such rights). For other people is a matter of being told their relationships “aren’t real enough” to be allowed to marry.

    • Byron says:

      By the way, as we get into this, know that I will certainly treat you with respect, even as I disagree wholeheartedly and attempt to rebut your arguments. I really, really appreciate your willingness to take a stab at this, and I hope that your gracious tone continues; I promise that mine will. So, to the first question, it seems you cannot give me an answer by giving me even one name of a person that a heterosexual can marry that a homosexual can’t. Of course, no one can. Because (other than one person’s blood relatives, of course) homosexuals and heterosexuals have exactly the same rights to marry exactly the same people. Of course, you chose to answer the question exactly as I expected, and again, with all due respect, your answer is technically incorrect, and here is why: if you say, as you do, that a gay man cannot marry another man, then the answer is not that his rights are different from a heterosexual’s, but rather that the definition of marriage precludes two people of the same sex marrying—which is my point. Ergo, the issue has nothing to do with “equal rights”, but rather with how we define the institution of marriage. I grant that this is what you’ve heard all along, because that’s what the loudest voices would have us believe, but technically, the issue is not about rights being equal, but about how we define marriage.

      Further, it seems clear to me that you make a logical leap, from the rights of the individual (which are equal, even if some don’t particularly like the way in which they are equal), to the assumed “rights” of couples. The constitution does not provide rights per se to groups of people, couples, etc.; instead, constitutional rights inhere to the individual. Even when we speak of “women’s rights” or “civil rights”, we are saying that groups of people ought not, as individuals, be discriminated against in certain ways as a result of being part of some group. The same logic applies to homosexual couples: rights do not inhere to couples or groups, but to the individual. In order to address presumed inequalities as to individual rights, it must be demonstrated that some individuals are being denied rights as individuals that other individuals enjoy.

      By the way, and I hope that you will accept my word on this, I have long been in favor of many “gay rights” (some of which have been vehemently opposed by many people “in my tribe”, if you will), because there have been—and I assume still are—areas of basic human rights which have been long denied to homosexuals. I have always felt that behavior between consenting adults—regardless of my personal feelings about such behavior—ought not be criminalized (I trust that as I support such rights, you also support my free speech rights to say what I believe to be true about such behaviors). I supported “don’t ask, don’t tell” back when homosexuals did, and my only opposition to the newly-adopted policy rises or falls on the issue of military preparedness; frankly, I’m coming around to believe that military preparedness might not be harmed at all. I suppose that the prevailing wisdom on the part of homosexuals is that those who oppose gay marriage—which I do unreservedly—also oppose other initiatives put forth in support of truly equal rights. I do not.

      Speaking of rights, on to the third question; I may or may not have worded this clearly enough. What I mean to suggest is this: nearly every time I hear folks arguing for gay marriage, it is in the context of wanting certain rights that marriage confers. Now, I can’t speak for others, but I must tell you this: my wife and I are in our 30th year of marriage, and at no time before or during our marriage have we concerned ourselves with what rights our marriage favored us with (well, other than, as Christian kids, the “right”, before God, to have sex!). It just never entered the equation, and frankly, never have I spoken with another heterosexual couple who has ever indicated that the “rights” bestowed by having a marriage certificate made even one tiny iota of difference in their decision to marry. And this is one of the things, of course, that is troublesome about the arguments for gay marriage: it seems to be (mainly) about ancillary rights—rights which could, it seems to me, be gained in some other fashion than the wholesale redefinition of marriage. Regardless, this emphasis upon such rights—presented as though these are the main thing about marriage—serves to further warp our very understanding of the institution of marriage.

      Finally (until I tackle your other answers!), for the record, I would not presume to judge the “realness” of anyone’s relationship, and so it is not on that basis that I oppose gay marriage. Rather, I believe that marriage has long been defined, across cultures and religious philosophies, with a few exceptions, of course, as the uniting of two people of the opposite sex. While I will not get into those arguments here, I believe those many arguments are quite valid, and quite apart from any value judgment as to the “realness” of any given relationship.

  3. ken says:

    “does not approving group marriage constitute a denial of equal rights to bisexuals?”

    You talk about wanting “respectful conversation” and yet ask such a demeaning question. Bisexual means that a person is attracted to both sexual (with approx. the same frequency), not that they are looking for group sex.

    “is there not more historical precedent, and logical support, for polygamy than for gay marriage?”

    Your historical precedent is actually about polyandry (one husband, many wives) and is from a time with the wives where essentially slaves to their husbands with little to know rights at all.

    “Do we establish that “gay marriage harms no one else” by fiat, or could there be a real sense in which it does harm the marriages of others?”

    I have yet to hear any rational examples of such harm.

    “will you support the rights of my wife and me, married 30 years, to ask the state to no longer recognize our marriage, given our heartfelt religious conviction that gay marriage does indeed cheapen marriage?”

    Another example of your attempt at “respectful conversation”?

    And if you want the state to no longer recognize your marriage, you can do that now, it is called divorce.

    • Byron says:

      Ken, I’m not really sure why you see this as a demeaning question; it certainly is not meant to be. Let me rephrase, then: if a person claims to be bisexual, then would we favor redefining marriage to allow three people to be married to each other (or four, so to make things equal). I don’t mean to necessarily imply that group sex be at issue, but rather that if there are people who are genuinely sexually attracted to both sexes, what rationale can be extended to force such individuals to choose between two people that the person loves? I can’t think of one, if we are using some of the arguments that are being used to buttress gay marriage.

      As to my polygamy question, I must object that polyandry actually defines just the opposite of what you say it does: it is the marriage of many men to one wife (I thought it was, but I just looked it up just in case). And I must further protest on two accounts: one, recent Mormon history (do not read me as a defender of the Mormons, by the way!) provides an example of polygamy in this country, and two, it is a poor argument to suggest what you do about “slavery” of wives to husbands, and this for two reasons: one, it presumes that this would of necessity be the case today, and two, it ignores the fact that one-man/one-woman marriage has, in many cultures, involved very much the same (terrible) “slavery-type” relationship.

      My point in the next question is this: it has simply been stated as fact that “gay marriage harms no one else”. Does just saying this make it true? I would argue, in fact, that redefining marriage harms every marriage. I would argue that as gay marriage becomes the law in different states, teaching about marriage in our schools, the understanding of the definition of marriage, etc., will suffer. Further, we have not had nearly a long-enough track record with this to know of what the societal impacts might be. To you, it may not seem “rational” that I believe that my marriage will, as a virtue of redefinition of marriage, be demeaned, but I have little doubt that this is the case.

      Final question: I do not mean to offend and be disrespectful by my words; that is not my intent. It is, as I stated above, our heartfelt belief that redefining marriage cheapens all marriages (and I respect fully your right to disagree!). Here’s the problem with divorce: generally speaking (and I do confess that I’ve not studied divorce laws in all the 50 states!), divorce laws require couples to do certain things that would be against our beliefs (such as living apart for a certain period of time, etc.—and I would not lie about that just to achieve a desired result). If the state changes the terms of a contract freely entered into, it must accommodate those whose convictions do not allow them to any longer be party to the contract, and that without violating conscience (as divorce, I ASSUME, would). I trust that, difficult as it might be for you to understand or agree with our rationale, you’d support our freedom to make such choices, and that without violating conscience.

      Once again, thanks for taking this on; I’m sorry about the spammy thing. It’s funny: I’ve had people post far longer comments than the two I just posted, and have no problems (and I’ve had other folks post tiny posts and get them tagged). Seems to be no rhyme nor reason. I’d welcome ongoing discussion if you see fit, but if not, I appreciate the opportunity to banter back and forth.

  4. ken says:

    “homosexuals and heterosexuals have exactly the same rights to marry exactly the same people.”

    This is incorrect. If a gay man marries a straight woman, the woman can sue for divorce on the grounds of fraud.

    As to your “the law is applied equally” argument that was the same thing the state tried to argue in Loving v. Virginia. The state argued since the law was applied the same to whites and black, they where being treated “equally.” Your argument is no more valid now than it was then.

    If you want to call allowing gay marriage a redefinition of marriage fine, i don’t care. However, allowing inter-racial marriage was also a redefinition. The issue is that CIVIL marriage is a RIGHT (as originally determined in Skinner v Oklahoma and re-affirmed several times since then). As a right, in order for the state to deny it to citizens, it must provide a valid justification (sometimes called a “compelling state interest” or a “rational basis”).

    “In order to address presumed inequalities as to individual rights, it must be demonstrated that some individuals are being denied rights as individuals that other individuals enjoy. ”

    An gays are being denied a right. A gay man (individual) is denied the right to marry the person he wants to marry, in a way that a straight man is not.

    Regarding your claim about “never” being concerned about the rights and privileges marriage gets you, then why did you bother with the trouble of getting a civil marriage? Why didn’t you just get married in your church and not bother with the civil part?

    btw, do you and your

    • Byron says:

      Thanks for continued responses. You are likely right about the grounds for divorce thing, but I would argue that this does not fundamentally alter my point: homosexuals are free to marry exactly the same people that heterosexuals are.

      I would further argue that there is a difference between changing the definition of marriage—one man/one woman—and altering those with access to it.

      I would argue that, since rights are equal, no one’s civil rights are being abridged. I feel pretty certain that this would have been seen as a fatuous argument, as applies to homosexuals, to most every generation of Americans (and our courts) until the present day.

      I think your next statement rehashes old ground—you argue that gays are being denied rights (because they WANT a particular right)—I argue that rights are equal. Let me use a different analogy (and it may have a flaw or two, but hear me out). It seems to me that your argument effectively says, “because I do not want the right that heterosexuals have (to marry opposite-sex individuals), then I must have a right that to me seems equal (i.e., to marry a person of the same sex”). This way, our rights FEEL equal (granted, you didn’t use that word, but that seems clearly to be what you are essentially saying). Here’s the analogy: I have the freedom to skydive, an equal right with every American. I would never exercise that right; it is a right essentially as useless to me, then, as heterosexual marriage is to gays. It seems to me that a parallel argument in this case would be this: I demand an equal right to a “thrill”, so I demand that laws be changed so that I can shoot heroin, in order to have the same “right to thrill”. That (admittedly silly) example seems to me to be roughly a parallel argument to the argument for gay marriage. Tell me where it breaks down, if indeed it does.

      Your next question is a very fair one, with a very simple answer: we were married nearly 30 years ago. I never even heard the term “gay marriage” until we had been married at least ten-twelve years. In other words, it was never in our wildest dreams that marriage would be redefined in this way. A more relevant question is, “were we getting married today, would we choose to secure a marriage license?” The answer would clearly be “no” if we lived in a state where gay marriage were legal; I’ll be honest enough to say “I don’t know” living in Georgia. Since that’s not my situation, of course, I haven’t thought deeply about what I’d do in a state without gay marriage. My first impulse is “no”, given the potentialities, but I’m honestly not sure what I’d do.

  5. ken says:

    ahh wrong button.

    btw, do you and your wife file a joint tax return? Is she covered under your work’s healthcare plan (or you under hers)? How would you feel if she were in intensive care in the hospital and they refused to let you see her?

    You may not “concern yourself” with the benefits of marriage, but I bet you would miss them if you didn’t have them. And as I said SOME people are primarily concerned about rights, others are concerned about equal treatment. One of the plaintiffs in Prop trial specifically addressed that. She grew up with the idea she wanted to be “happily married” not “happily domestic partnered.”

    “Rather, I believe that marriage has long been defined, across cultures and religious philosophies, with a few exceptions, of course, as the uniting of two people of the opposite sex. ”

    That definition “one man/one woman” isn’t even 60 years old in the US. Because before the Loving decision it was “one man/one woman of the same race” and before that it was “one white man and one white woman.”

    Marriage has changed significantly through out time. And allowing gay marriage is just another step in the evolution of marriage.

    • Byron says:

      I hit wrong buttons all the time, particularly on my “smartphone”, which is sometimes smarter than me…

      Yes, we file a joint tax return. Yes, we share healthcare. I would bust down the door of the ICU to see her (and I am serious). And I agree, as I’ve said before, that in these ways, equal rights should certainly be granted (I’m not sure about the tax thing; never thought about that; at least for some time, there was a “marriage penalty”!). I am sure that there are some people who do argue as you say, but you probably would agree with me that the way it generally tends to be presented focuses on those ancillary rights. I would simply argue that getting those appropriate rights need not necessitate redefining the institution of marriage.

      To the last argument, I answered in my previous post; I would disagree that the definition of marriage has changed, but rather that access to it, thankfully, has.

      Again, thanks.

  6. ken says:

    “I’m not really sure why you see this as a demeaning question”

    If a man where attracted to both blonds and brunettes would you suggest that he wants to marry multiple people? Your question demeans bisexuals because it suggests that they are incapable of committing to one person simply because they are attracted to a variety of different people.

    “As to my polygamy question, I must object that polyandry actually defines just the opposite of what you say it does:”

    Yes, I apologize, I meant polygyny. However the point still stands.

    “recent Mormon history (do not read me as a defender of the Mormons, by the way!) provides an example of polygamy (polygyny) in this country”

    1st, mormon polygyny is NOT recognized by the state. only ONE of a man’s wives would be recognized as a lawful/civil wife, the others have no legal standing. Further, it shows my example of how women are given unequal status in polygynous marriage.

    How would polygamy work under our legal system? ex:

    take the example of one man w/ 2 wives.

    what is the legal relationship of the 2 wives?

    if the husband is incapacitated which wife is allowed to make medical decisions for him? what if the wives disagree?

    what if one of the wives wants to divorce? does the other wife have a legal standing to contest the divorce? how much property/assets is the divorcing wife entitled to? 1/2? 1/3? 1/4?

    this is just a small sample of the myriad problems with polygamous marriage. Our legal system cannot handle polygamous marriage. Nor do I think there is a fair, workable solution for it. that said if someone wishes to propose such a solution I’d be willing to consider it. Keep in mind I don’t mean answer the few sample questions I gave, I mean a solution that address all of the problems (my questions are meant to be exemplary not exhaustive).

    “I would argue, in fact, that redefining marriage harms every marriage. ”

    Did redefining it to include inter-racial marriage harm marriage?

    “I would argue that as gay marriage becomes the law in different states, teaching about marriage in our schools, the understanding of the definition of marriage, etc., will suffer.”

    Suffer how? And will this suffering/harm be greater than the harm done to gays that are denied marriage?

    “Further, we have not had nearly a long-enough track record with this to know of what the societal impacts might be.”

    So you believe it is okay to deny a whole class of people the right to marriage because of some unspecified, bad thing that might happen? what about the real harm done to gay couples because they can’t marry?

    “To you, it may not seem “rational” that I believe that my marriage will, as a virtue of redefinition of marriage, be demeaned, but I have little doubt that this is the case.”

    but it’s okay for Brittany Spear’s to have a weekend marriage? or Elizabeth Taylor to have 7 different husbands? or Newt Gingrich cheat on his wife when she gets sick then divorce her and marry the woman he was cheating on her with (twice)? But no, allowing gays to marry that’s too demeaning for you?

    Sorry, but simply because you think Ted and Alex marrying is “demeaning” is no where near a valid justification for denying them the right of marriage.

    • Byron says:

      Ken, I’m going to try to combine responses in one post, so that we don’t have to keep up this “split personality” thing… 🙂

      I don’t think the point you’re trying to make about bisexuals is one of your better arguments. First, there is (as I assume you’d concede) a significant difference between attraction to two (or 1000, for that matter!) people of the opposite sex (all of the SAME sex), on the basis of hair color/whatever, and being attracted to people of both sexes. To answer your question, in the case of polygamists, well, yes! He would want to marry both, or several of each! But we (rightly in my judgment) deny the right to multiple spouses. And yet at the same time, the bisexual cannot satisfy his particular needs in the context of a one-one relationship, right? Doesn’t one-one marriage deny him the right to satisfaction of his needs, forcing him outside of marriage to do so? Isn’t that just as “discriminatory”, by your line of reasoning, as denying gay marriage would be? It seems to me that your determination to limit bisexuals to having to choose one or the other is at least as “demeaning” as my suggestion, indeed more so, in my opinion. Not that I actually buy my own argument, of course…no, I don’t think group marriage should be legal!

      My only point with regard to Mormons is that it isn’t ancient history, but that argument is a side argument anyway…on to more important things.

      Now, with regard to polygamy, it’s interesting that you would consider it (but not anything to address bisexuals? That still strikes me as odd. Oh, well.); I, of course, wouldn’t. But your argument against it—and in favor of de facto discrimination—seems to be, “but it would be too hard legally to figure out”, which doesn’t strike me as a good argument to deny “rights”. But of course, my point would be that if we redefine marriage to include same sex couples, and then to include polygamy, and (I still say, by very similar reasoning) group marriage, then what’s become of the entire enterprise (and yes, I’ll get to Britney Spears in a minute!)? It’s become a mockery, it seems to me.

      Your next two arguments seem to retrace old ground; i.e., the idea that “rights are being denied”. You can’t well use that as a defense when it seems to me that that idea has been discredited, or at the least, hardly proven. If the pool for every man in America, and for every woman in America, is exactly the same (blood relations excepted, of course), then individual rights are currently equal, right?

      You probably know my answer to the Britney Spears/Elizabeth Taylor/Newt “The Slug” Gingrich question: of course it’s not “okay”. But it’s not a good argument to use the misbehavior of these bozos and others in order to invalidate the concept, and I’m sure that if we applied that same reasoning to other institutions, we could find similar misdeeds (want to apply it to government? Sheesh…maybe you’d agree with me that if we started looking at the misdeeds of elected officials, we’d be tempted toward abolishing government entirely, by this line of reasoning!). Further, be sure of this: homosexuals will mess up their marriages every bit as much as heterosexuals will, because we’re all people, and we all mess up, to one degree or another, pretty much everything we touch, marriage included!

      And your last point of this post again returns to the “deny rights” argument, which I addressed above. On to your second post!

      Good one on the Loving comment… 🙂

      Why did I marry my wife? C’mon, dude…because I loved her! Because I wanted to commit myself to her (and she to me), with everything that entails. Because I didn’t love anyone else (in that way/to that degree). Didn’t cross our minds—or if it did, it didn’t matter to us at the time—that we’d be gaining certain rights from the government.

      I’m not in favor of legalizing heroin (interestingly enough, I think that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal, but that’s another topic for another time, and I wouldn’t smoke it regardless—in case some readers think I’m a doper wannabe), but I could counter by suggesting that there are all sorts of things that people are legally allowed to do that are harmful to them (eat pork rinds to their hearts’ content, get stone drunk as long as it’s not in public, patronize the WWF, watch MSNBC, vote Democrat…). 🙂 But that’s a bit of a side issue as well, and I’ll leave it alone.

      Once again, you are a worthy debater, and I continue to appreciate your tone. You seem to be the kind of guy I can find at least this much common ground with: rational debate is better than screaming and yelling and ad hominem attacks.

  7. ken says:

    “I feel pretty certain that this would have been seen as a fatuous argument, as applies to homosexuals, to most every generation of Americans (and our courts) until the present day.”

    And you’d be correct. In fact when the Loving decision was made gay marriage wouldn’t have been possible either. As I said marriage as changed significantly over time (even in the US). And it wasn’t until the last few decades that marriage has evolved into a relationship of equal partners. Before, the legal system (through laws and court rulings) treated the husband and wife differently. Now, both spouses are treated the same, so that the gender of the spouse doesn’t matter, under the law (I’m sure it matters to the other spouse 🙂 )

    “you argue that gays are being denied rights (because they WANT a particular right)—I argue that rights are equal…“because I do not want the right that heterosexuals have (to marry opposite-sex individuals)” ”

    Why did you marry your wife? You said it wasn’t for the civil benefits, so why did you marry her and not someone else?

    “Tell me where it (heroin example) breaks down, if indeed it does. ”

    It breaks down because the government can provide a constitutionally valid justification (although some would argue it isn’t) that allowing people to shoot heroin is bad for the people that do it and society in general. To use an example in the topic of marriage, polygamous marriage. I argue that there is no fair, workable way within our legal system to have polygamous marriage, and that is a constitutionally valid reason to deny people polygamous marriage. However, today, there are no such legal impediments to gay marriage.

  8. ken says:

    This is a very frustrating blog system.

  9. ken says:

    Apparently it thinks I’m being too “spammy” again.

    Now I can’t seem to post any part of my reply.

  10. ken says:

    “First, there is (as I assume you’d concede) a significant difference between attraction to two (or 1000, for that matter!) people of the opposite sex (all of the SAME sex), on the basis of hair color/whatever, and being attracted to people of both sexes.”

  11. ken says:

    No there is not a significant difference in most cases. I suspect you do not know any bisexuals nor read much about them. Just because someone is attracted to both genders doesn’t mean they want to have sex with or marry multiple people. That doesn’t mean they are less capable of committing to one person anymore than the man who is attracted to blonds and brunettes is incapable of committing to one person. As Woody Allen once put it: ‘Being bisexual means you have twice as many chances of finding a date on Sat. night.’ However, it doesn’t mean you HAVE to have 2 dates on Sat. night.

  12. ken says:

    sorry but the only way I can reply is to break it up into small chunks 😦

    “the bisexual cannot satisfy his particular needs in the context of a one-one
    relationship, right?”

    Yes he (or she) can. Being bisexual doesn’t mean a person NEEDS to have sex
    with both genders, just that they are equally attracted to both. His emotional
    and/or sexual needs can be satisfied by either gender. Not that he must have
    both.

    ” “but it would be too hard legally to figure out”, which doesn’t strike me as a good argument to deny “rights”. ”

    I did NOT say it was “too hard.” I said it is unworkable and/or unfair. And yes, I believe it being unworkable is a constitutionally valid reason not to do something and it is not something I intend to fight for because of that. As I said, if someone could present a workable, fair scheme I would reconsider my position, but until I actually see such a scheme this is the last I have to say about polygamy.

  13. ken says:

    “then individual rights are currently equal, right? ”

    Not they aren’t. Now I’m going to jump around a bit to show you why.

    “Why did I marry my wife? C’mon, dude…because I loved her! Because I wanted to commit myself to her (and she to me), with everything that entails. Because I didn’t love anyone else (in that way/to that degree).”

    And yet you argue against allows gays the same right you have: I.e. the right to marry the person you love and want to commit yourself to with everything that entails. And you claim it is “equal” because they can still marry “someone of the opposite gender.” It is not only unfair, it is cruel.

    Now to a slightly different point. There are gay couples (and I mean both male/male and female/female), that have been together for decades (some even longer than you and your wife). And not only have they had to face most of the same types of relationship problems as you and your wife, they have also had to deal with the fear of being cut off from families if their relationship was discovered, or losing their jobs, of being thrown out of their apartments, physically threatened and still then managed to endure and stay together. And you can live with Britney Spears’ or Newt Gingrich’s etc marital shenanigans but if these GAY couples where allowed to marry that would be too “demeaning” and you’d consider tearing up your marriage license if those people were allowed to marry. How do you think that makes these gay couples feel? Do you care?

    Regarding your heroin example. 1st you missed part of what I said, not just that it was harmful to the individuals that do it, but to society as well. However, the actual point I made was that in order for the state to deny rights to a class of citizens, it MUST have a valid reason for doing so. Whether the government ban on heroin (or other drugs) is constitutional is an entirely different debate. What is definitely NOT constitutional is denying a class of citizens a right because the majority doesn’t like them. So far I have yet to a reason.

    • Byron says:

      Ken, truly sorry it has taken this long. Suffice it to say that yesterday was the first day in over a week when I had any time to speak of to catch up on stuff, and after getting a lot of absolutely critical stuff done, I finally have time to get back to this interesting, but less “critical”, pursuit. I also again apologize for the perplexing issue you have with this blog system. I have no answers at all; other folks have been able to post long replies (longer even than mine—and that’s saying something!), so why you cannot, I have no clue. So…on to your responses!

      You are correct in suggesting that I have an unfamiliarity with bisexuals; I will certainly concede that. I can also concede that it is certainly possible that a bisexual could willingly be satisfied denying himself/herself “one side” of the equation, much in the same way that a person attracted to more than one person of the opposite sex could nonetheless be satisfied. I’m not sure that’s the issue, though. Rather, it seems to me that the issue would be that for that segment of the bisexual populace that could not, or was unwilling, to limit him/her-self, there would be no marital outlet for such fulfillment. At the very least, a hetero- or homosexual individual would have, in the context of marriage, the necessary component for sexual fulfillment that a bisexual person could, by very definition, not have. And I agree as to polygamy; seems to me we’re just going around over semantics, so let’s leave it.

      Now, to the “equal rights” thing, I cannot concur that you have proven your point at all. I am not arguing against gays having the right to marry the one they love; I am arguing against redefining marriage to accommodate such. It still stands that if the pool of “candidates” for marriage is the very same pool for all men, then rights are equal. My whole point of making this clear is simple: it is legitimate, entirely legitimate, to argue for why we ought to change the definition of marriage. I do not begrudge you the right, as a fellow American, to make that argument, to use the very points you make, etc. It is perfectly fine to argue that the definition of marriage ought to be changed because gay people cannot “marry the people they love”. It is, of course, my right to argue otherwise, and ultimately such things are decided through legal processes. What I am arguing against, though, is what strikes me as a tilting of the debate in the direction of “equal rights” such that all other considerations are off the board, because as we all know, if it can truly be established that persons are being discriminated against unfairly, the natural sentiment of the American people, myself included, is to fight for equal rights.

      Now, to our friends Britney and Newt (by the way, don’t know if you’re read other posts I’ve written, but I’ve made it clear that, though I am a libertarian conservative, and would under no circumstances vote for Barack Obama, I’d vote third-party if that slug Newt Gingrich gets the Republican nomination): the deplorable shenanigans of these two, and millions of others while we’re at it, do not fundamentally alter the definition of marriage.

      Further, I’ve tried to make it clear that I believe that some of those “ancillary rights” which have been unreasonably denied to homosexuals ought to be available to them. Some of those societal effects which you mention are certainly a shame as well, and I suppose that it says a lot for the commitment of people under such circumstances that they remain committed. But here’s the truth as I see it: while we need, in all circumstances, to try to treat people with respect, with regard for their feelings and beliefs, etc.—such as I’m trying to do in this conversation with you, Ken, and with others who profoundly disagree with me—I cannot base what I believe to be the truth, or my commitment to propagate it, on the basis of how that truth might make others feel. I can—and should—bend over backwards not to be offensive in my manner, but I cannot alter what I believe is the truth on the basis of people’s rejection of it, or their feelings toward it. And it cuts both ways, of course. Another example of this is my belief in Jesus Christ. I recognize that many (most) people do not share that commitment, and I would in no way attempt to coerce such belief. Some of the things that the Bible teaches come off as offensive to people—in fact, the Bible says of itself that that is exactly the case! So some people’s “feelings will be hurt”, some will be offended, etc. My responsibility is to find the balance between truth and love, to sacrifice neither, such that even though it is my place to speak the truth, I need to be careful to give no needless offense. Again, I concede that some of my beliefs may in themselves offend certain sensibilities of people—but there is little I can do about that, to be honest—and that’s just what I’m trying to be here: honest as I can, without being ugly. And I’ve learned a few things in my conversation with you that will help me in that, for which I thank you.

  14. ken says:

    So far I have yet to see a constitutionally sufficient reason for not allowing gay marriage.

  15. Shane Ryans says:

    I don’t think anyone has an argument. I don’t see anything wrong with allowing it. Its just one more thing for people to whine about, just get over it and let it happen. Sooner or later it is going to happen so why not now.

  16. Mark Merritt says:

    The gay marriage debate comes up frequently on another website that I visit. One point that a gay man has made is that if we allow gay marriage then it would reduce promiscuity. any thoughts Byron?

    • Byron says:

      I suppose that that point could be argued, though it is not central to the argument, but rather a “pragmatic possibility”. I suppose that one could say that having a formal commitment, such as a marriage license, might provide at least a tiny inducement toward faithfulness and away from promiscuity. Doesn’t seem like much of a compelling reason, though, to redefine the institution itself.

  17. ken says:

    “I am not arguing against gays having the right to marry the one they love; I am arguing against redefining marriage to accommodate such.”

    If your “argument” has the same effect of denying gays the right to marry the one they love, how is it any different than arguing against allowing gays to marry the ones they love?

    “What I am arguing against, though, is what strikes me as a tilting of the debate in the direction of “equal rights” such that all other considerations are off the board,”

    What “other considerations” are you referring to?

    “if it can truly be established that persons are being discriminated against unfairly”

    You think it is fair to deny gays the right of CIVIL marriage? Why? What is your rationale for denying them? Keep in mind, I’m looking for something that raises to the level of a “compelling state interest”. Also, if you use the same arguments that were used against inter-racial marriage, I will call you on it. (ex. your argument that the law against marrying the same gender applies the same to straights as it does to gays, therefore it is “fair” is the same that was used in the Loving case when the state argued that the law against inter-racial marriage applied the same to whites as it did blacks. The SCOTUS saw through that line of reasoning as well).

  18. ken says:

    “Now, to our friends Britney and Newt…”
    you didn’t actually answer the question I asked when I brought up Britney, Newt. et. al. what I asked was:

    And you can live with Britney Spears’ or Newt Gingrich’s etc marital shenanigans but if these GAY couples where allowed to marry that would be too “demeaning” and you’d consider tearing up your marriage license if those people were allowed to marry. How do you think that makes these gay couples feel? Do you care?

    • Byron says:

      Sorry, thought I answered that: their deplorable shenanigans do not fundamentally alter the meaning of marriage, was my response. It stands. Look, people are people, and if gays gain rights to marry, they will screw it up every bit as much as some heterosexuals have; we’re all capable, gay or straight, of all sorts of such shenanigans. The nonsense of Britney and Newt and Kim Kardashian will soon enough be rivaled by gay couples, undoubtedly. One could also point to the multiplied millions of successful marriages on the other hand. But behavior is irrelevant to the question of the definition of marriage.

      Further, I went to great lengths to try to answer the questions about the “feelings” of gay couples. I can elaborate further, but I thought I handled that one with a relatively wordy response.

      Now to your second post, the difference, as I tried to make clear, has to do with how the argument is presented. Rights are equal. Argue about why you think we ought to redefine marriage; that’s fine. What I meant by “all other considerations” is this: when one cries, “unequal rights”, that effectively shuts off debate on a matter. Never mind all the reasons that exist to maintain the specific definition of marriage that has prevailed in this, indeed most, cultures for most of time; “we’re being discriminated against” effectively trumps everything else. This is why it is incumbent upon folks who feel as you do to establish the claim, and which is why I am adamant in insisting that it is not an issue of equal rights. Argue as you will, I would say, just “fight fair”. Explain why marriage ought to be redefined, and I will explain why it ought not, and the court of public opinion will decide. But I think that the percentage of people (and I would not include you in this percentage, by the way) who think at about an inch-deep level is so great in our country these days (and by the way, that number includes people of all stripes) that when buzzwords such as “equal rights” are used, that percentage of non-thinkers just laps it up without applying any critical thinking to the matter at all.

      To your final question, once again I would suggest that you have used the language of rights–and denial of rights–to craft your argument. I am not denying anyone rights. Rights are equal, as I’ve tried to establish by my use of the fact that you and I (well, were I single!) could marry the exact same pool of people. Perhaps I could concede that I want to “deny the expansion of rights, by means of redefining marriage”; I guess that’s fair to say. But when you say I want to “deny rights”, I do not agree that that is what I want to do. I want to maintain marriage as it is, and as I’ve also made clear, I want to also make sure that appropriate legal rights are equal as applies to those “ancillary issues” in which, wrongly, homosexuals have suffered discrimination.

      Now, you say you’re going to “call me on it” if I say what I effectively just said, so I guess we’re at an impasse. I would only reiterate that Loving is not the same rationale, because marriage was not redefined when blacks and whites were allowed to marry. Here’s why: would you say that voting was “redefined” when women were allowed to vote? Of course not; voting was still the same thing, but access to it was opened up. Marriage, though, would be redefined in the event of gay marriage, because a key component (no, not the only component, I readily grant) would be off the table: marriage for the purpose of procreation. Marriage as a union of two people who, in the main (exceptions understood, such as those with physical limitations, age, etc.), can come together in a “corresponding” sexual relationship (need I get more graphic) with the potential for propagation. There are deeper arguments for that than I care to get into here, of course, but this is why I say that we’re talking about a fundamental redefinition, and one which, once admitted, opens the door to other wholesale redefinitions, including one I haven’t mentioned, incestuous marriage. What compelling state reason would there be to deny 50-year-old brother and sister from marrying? That’s a rabbit trail you need not chase, by the way, I’m just sayin’…

  19. ken says:

    I don’t seem to be making my point. I assume you read Huck Finn. In it, Pap learns that negroes can vote in some states. In response to this he swears he will never vote again.

    Now you say: “should gay marriage become the law of the land, will you support the rights of my wife and me, married 30 years, to ask the state to no longer recognize our marriage, given our heartfelt religious conviction that gay marriage does indeed cheapen marriage?”

    Do you see the similarity between Pap’s sentiment and yours? Some of your statements are offensive, whether you mean them to be or not. Just like bringing up incest (or bestiality), when talking about gay marriage. And claiming you are only “speaking the truth” doesn’t help. Now, I’m not saying they are the level of Pap’s screed, but they are still offensive.

    Once again, as to your claim that the rights are equal, they are not. YOU are allowed to marry the person you love and are attracted to, gay men and women are NOT. That is not equal. Claiming that the law is applied the same to a straight man and as it is to a gay man makes it “equal” is THE SAME argument used in the Loving decision (I suggest you read it http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0388_0001_ZO.html). the state argued the same thing: The law applies the same to a white man as it does to a black man, that makes it equal. Your argument didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.

    “would you say that voting was “redefined” when women were allowed to vote? ”

    Using your concept of “redefinition” (i.e. changing the laws to include a greater group of people) then yes it was a redefinition of voting. And allowing inter-racial couples to marry was also a redefinition of marriage.

    • Byron says:

      Ken, I’m going to reply to your comments in the next couple of days (briefly), and then I suggest this: we’ve covered a lot of ground over the past three weeks, and I appreciate your willingness to do this. I hope that this has sharpened you, and it has sharpened me, and while we’ve certainly disagreed, we’ve been able to model respectful disagreement, I think, and I’m sure we could agree that that is something sorely lacking today. Here’s what I propose: after I address just a couple of things, I’m going to write my “closing argument”, after which I would extend to you the opportunity to do the same, and to have the “final word”. Then I’ll end with a closing note of thanks, nothing more, and we’ll call it a conversation. We are starting, I think you’d agree, to rehash arguments made previously, right? Seems like the timing is right to wrap it up, but not without both of us making “closing statements”. Does that sound good to you?

  20. ken says:

    As to your procreation argument. 1st, allowing gays to marry will have NO EFFECT on couples who wish to marry for procreative reasons. They will be able to marry just as they did before gays were allowed to marry. Further, in the US, procreation has NEVER been a requirement of marriage. And in some cases, couples are only allowed to marry if they CAN NOT procreate (ex. AZ State Code: 25-101 B.).

    As far as “opening the door to other types of marriage”, you are wrong. Any couple (or group) that is denied marriage by the state has the same rights to challenge the state to provide sufficient justification why they cannot marry. Just as inter-racial couples did in the past, and gay couples are doing now.

  21. ken says:

    btw, the American Foundation for Equal Rights is streaming a live showing of “8”, a play about the Prop 8 trial, tonigt (Sat. 03/03/13) at 7:45 PT. Don’t know how closely they will follow the trial transcripts, but it may still be worth watching. Details are here:

    http://www.afer.org/live/

  22. Derlin says:

    One thing I’m noticing in this debate is that Ken repeatedly says that straight people have the right to marry people they love, while gay people do not. Byron on the hand, tends to not mention this as a right.

    From my understanding, a person has the right to marry, but only the potential to marry a person he or she loves. Sometimes that may be because the other person doesn’t want to marry, other times, as with heterosexual only marriage, would be because it isn’t allowed. I’m not convinced that a potential case must always be a right.

    I’m in favor of some sort of union, whether one or more, for homosexual couples, or non-sexual couples (which could include siblings or best friends, etc). (Why must marriage-like relationships be about sex, why can’t they just be about mutual love and support?) These other unions could provide most all of the rights and benefits, while reserving the trademark, if you will, of marriage as a one-man, one-woman relationship. For legal simplicity they’d have to be arbitrarily restricted to two people. I prefer not to see marriage turned into a generic term for a number of kinds of unions. Union is already vague, so make marriage a particular kind of union, and make up a new word for what we currently call gay marriage.

  23. ken says:

    “From my understanding, a person has the right to marry, but only the potential to marry a person he or she loves.”

    Perhaps, but a gay person does not have that potential at all. I.e. If a straight man finds someone he loves and wants to marry (and she is also willing), he can marry. If a gay man finds someone he loves and wants to marry (and HE is also willing) he cannot.

    “These other unions could provide most all of the rights and benefits, while reserving the trademark, if you will, of marriage as a one-man, one-woman relationship.”

    Ah, the “separate but equal” argument. When you say: “you can have all (or almost) all the rights of marriage, but you can’t use the word” what message do you think you are sending to gay couples? Whether you intend to or not, you are saying: “your relationships aren’t good enough to be called marriage, you have to call it something else.” No gays allowed in this club.

    And as some of the defendants pointed out in the Prop 8 trial, the word “married” conveys a host of meaning. It implies love, sharing, commitment. It implies a willingness to put up with all irritating habits that no one else will. Marriage implies a host of things. Now, I’m not claiming ALL marriages have this host of attributes, but the term itself conjures up significant meaning and understanding. Meanings that “we are domestic partners” does not. Meanings that can just as easily be applied to gay couples as they were to inter-racial couple.

    • Byron says:

      Ken, I can understand if you think I died or dropped off the face of the earth. Two things, basically: one, my life has been extraordinarily busy, and two, I’ve temporarily hit a “wall” as far as having a desire to do much blogging. The two are undoubtedly related, yet separate as well. At any rate, here is what I would propose: if you read this, and want to take me up on that offer I made a couple months back, then great; I will do my final post and let you respond with the last word. If not, in a spirit of fairness, I will just leave everything as it is. What I will not do, for integrity’s sake, is to post my final word without regard for your thoughts. Do let me know, if you get this, and if not, we’ll consider it my last post on the subject. Thanks again for a good debate.

  24. Blake says:

    Well, I’m late to this party, but I’m your huckleberry. I’ll get back to you after I’ve read what’s already been said.

  25. Blake says:

    Firstly, let me thank y’all for keeping it civil. I’ll do my best as well. If the issue is equal rights, can you provide the given name of one person that a heterosexual could marry that a homosexual could not? If not, is the issue really equal rights, or is the issue the very definition of marriage itself?

    The issue is not, technically speaking, an issue of equal rights (rather it is an issue of equal treatment before the laws: that is to say my family is a family & should be treated as such, legally speaking). I’ll even agree with you that the issue is the very definition of marriage itself. But I would argue that instead of gays trying to redefine marriage into a secular institution what is actually happening is religious folks attempting to maintain a semblance of control over an institution they long ago handed over to secularists (circa no-fault divorce). Do you seriously believe your definition of marriage is the definition that the government applies to civil marriages? Just going looking at what you’ve already said:
    Your definition: marriage for the purpose of procreation – Govern’t’s: Marriage for whatever reason (Vegas, Courthouse, Shotgun, Whim, no waiting period, no forced counseling, no fertility test)
    Y’all religious folks gave up marriage a long time ago to the state. Stop trying to take it back.

  26. Blake says:

    Are legal rights, such as medical privileges, adoption rights, tax benefits, a key aspect of marriage? Are these factors generally a big concern to people who marry?

    With this question you are missing the point. The arguments gay people put forward regarding benefits of marriage were appeals to people’s rational side (a tactic which clearly does not work). Most gay people are like most straight people, they want to get married for the exact same reason your wife & you got married. That’s why I got married. I still live in Georgia where my marriage certificate means nothing, but I got married for the exact same reasons you married your wife. The piece of paper doesn’t mean a thing. Now, if I were to have kids the first thing I would do is move to a place where my marriage would be recognized, like, say, South Africa. But as long as it’s just the two of us, the piece of paper & the rights & privileges that came along with it didn’t come into the decision making process at all.

  27. Blake says:

    If not approving gay marriage constitutes a denial of equal rights to homosexuals, does not approving group marriage constitute a denial of equal rights to bisexuals? For that matter, is there not more historical precedent, and logical support, for polygamy than for gay marriage?

  28. Blake says:

    Bisexualism was covered well enough before but I did want to put a thought out there. There is a serious disconnect between the gay community’s definition of sexuality and the evangelical community’s. For example, I don’t consider actions central to a persons’ sexuality. If a gay man were to remain celibate he’d still be gay in my book; if he married a woman too. Also, many gay men of my generation, and me, came out before their first interpersonal-sexual-experiences (to put it dryly). I even came out before I so much as kissed a boy (kissing a girl was enough to know “this is not for me”).

  29. Blake says:

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into the phrasing of your question and your responses, but it appears as if this fundamental understanding of sexuality was your stumbling block. Just a thought; turns out I’m not a particularly good mind-reader.

  30. Blake says:

    Regarding polygamy, this is THE one argument against gay marriage which really cooks my cabbage. So if I get a little frothy please excuse me. Who is talking about polygamy? Not us. It’s you guys who are opposed to our equal treatment before the laws. We can cross that bridge when we get to it, but it is a failure of logic to say polygamy MUST be allowed because same-sex marriage is allowed. Polygamy arguments are straw-men-red-herrings & I dare you to prove me wrong.

  31. Blake says:

    Do we establish that “gay marriage harms no one else” by fiat, or could there be a real sense in which it does harm the marriages of others? No, not by fiat. By reason. But you clearly disagree. This question goes to the core of the argument. You say: marriage IS____________ I say marriage IS_____________ neither of us is willing to concede the definition to the other & we’re right back where we started. From your perspective I can see how you might think that gay marriage will be harmful to society in the long run & all I have to say about that is that you’re wrong. You were wrong about DADT & troop preparedness & your wrong about the impact that allowing gay people to marry will have on society. Perhaps one of the reasons you’re wrong is because you’ve never met a bisexual person. Just sayin.

  32. Blake says:

    Finally, should gay marriage become the law of the land, will you support the rights of my wife and me, married 30 years, to ask the state to no longer recognize our marriage, given our heartfelt religious conviction that gay marriage does indeed cheapen marriage?

    Yes. That is your right. Divorce is the wrong approach though, I think you could get an annulment. But I would counsel you against doing so. But do whatever you think is just to your heart’s content.

  33. ken says:

    Sure I don’t have a problem with your proposal.

  34. Byron says:

    Finally…finally…I am determined to put my final, summary argument out there. I began by stating that the next good argument I heard for gay marriage would be the first, and I commend Ken for his efforts to provide that. Though, as both he and readers might expect, I do not find his arguments persuasive, he has made them winsomely, and taken the time to try to put forth a reasonable, rather than a pejorative, argument. I have no reason to assume his summary argument will be anything different, and thus this shall be my final post. As such, I will say my thanks to Ken; he’s a guy whom I’d be happy to buy lunch; if you’re ever in Atlanta, consider that a standing offer. Finally (before my argument), I appreciate the fact that Ken’s arguments have refined and sharpened mine; I’d feel great if he could say the same, but no need to. Thanks!

    Perhaps the first benefit to having this discussion is that I now will begin my arguments from a different starting point. My new starting point, one which to my recollection Ken didn’t address, is this: rights inhere to the individual, not to groups. In fact, I would argue that that point is a huge one, for if rights inhere to groups, then it’s hard to disagree with at least some of Ken’s key points. But I submit that they do not; rather, the individual is the locus of constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Yes, we speak of “women’s rights”, and “civil rights”, and for that matter, “gay rights”, but what we mean by that is uniformly this: individuals ought not be denied equal rights as a result of being a member of a particular group. Illustrated, a black man ought to be treated the same as a white man. A woman ought to be treated the same as a man. And a homosexual ought to be treated the same as a heterosexual. As individuals. Let’s illustrate further by picturing two men, “Gus” and “Gary”. When considering the question of marriage, aside from blood relatives, what is the difference in the pool of eligible marriage candidates for these two men? There is no difference. If there is no difference in the pool of potentials, how can it possibly be said that their rights are not equal? Logically, I argue, it cannot. The fact that Gus professes to be homosexual, and Gary heterosexual, does not alter the field of potential candidates one whit. The argument, then, that to oppose gay marriage is to oppose equal rights for homosexual, just doesn’t hold water. Each individual–the locus of rights–has identical rights to marry.

    Now of course, this fact alone doesn’t mean that we ought not change the law to allow gay marriage, but it does give the lie to the idea that this is an “equal rights” issue. To argue that it is an issue of equal rights, one must first prove that rights inhere to groups, it seems clear to me. The argument must then be made on other grounds. On at least some of those other grounds, I actually find common ground with Ken, the difference being that I do not believe that redefining marriage is necessary to accomplish those ends. Chief among them is the idea that there are restrictions placed upon individuals–back to my theme of individual rights–by virtue of their choice of partners, with regard to certain legal issues (visitation rights, inheritance rights, etc., come to mind, though candidly I’m both sure there are others, and am unsure that these are even issues any longer). If a person chooses to share his life with another, and has wishes with regard to such matters, it shouldn’t matter whether or not those people are married (and that goes beyond the whole gay marriage issue; if two people have lived together without marriage, they ought to be able to make similar decisions for themselves). It’s not a state interest, or oughtn’t be, in such matters. I would argue, though, that such matters can, and ought to, be addressed in some other manner than redefining marriage.

    Further, when we get to all this “rights talk”, we come to another huge issue I have with the typical arguments in favor of gay marriage: the reductionism of marriage to, principally, an organ to secure rights. I don’t mean to diminish the feelings that people have for each other in saying that, or to say that rights are the only reason for the support for gay marriage; I would never suggest that. But I maintain that a significant percentage of the arguments that I’ve heard in support of gay marriage involves just this thing: “rights aren’t equal, and we need gay marriage to get equal rights”. I submit that this grossly distorts the whole proposition of marriage, the idea that getting certain rights are a chief reason people get married. We celebrate our 30th anniversary next month, and the idea of rights gained over these 30 years being some key component of our marriage is silly beyond belief. Such rights did not merit a moment’s consideration when we decided to get married. And so when this becomes one of the key planks in the argument, I would argue that the whole enterprise is compromised.

    I argue that the issue is the redefinition of marriage. Ken responded that if that’s the case–at one point he conceded that he was fine with that–then marriage has been redefined before, and cited the Loving case which involved a white man marrying a black woman, which the state of Virginia (I think) prohibited. My argument, which I believe to be more than semantic, is that to allow a black man and a white woman/vice-versa to marry, is not to redefine marriage, per se.

    Ken raised the issue of what some–no, many–heterosexuals have done to marriage. Though I don’t think this really addresses pertinent issues, it is a valid point. Many heterosexuals have messed up marriage. And homosexuals are certain to do the same. That’s neither an argument for or against gay marriage, in my opinion; it is the (sad!) reality of being human. It disgusts me that people treat marriage partners as something to be readily discarded. Period.

    Finally, I would make a general argument, and this one comes the closest to breaking new ground as anything I’ve just written (though I alluded to this, but didn’t really answer Ken’s reply): marriage has been defined as it has, up until this point, because of the fundamental things we understand about human anatomy with regard to procreation, etc. This does not at all mean–and I never answered Ken on this one–that all married people must procreate (some cannot, of course–and I’d argue that others ought not!). What it means–and this seems a fairly innocuous point–is that marriage was designed with sexual correspondence in mind. I can’t imagine Ken arguing that, even as he would argue that that ought not hold sway as a determining factor any longer. Fine. I would argue, simply, that such a definition which, while not having been universal for all time has certainly been the prevailing understanding of the definition of marriage across cultures, religions, and time, ought not be so readily thrown on the scrapheap of American history. The old adage is that you shouldn’t knock down a fence until you find out why it was put there, and the rush we have seen recently to knock down this fence seems to be being done with little regard to anything like a historical perspective.

    Finally, one last apology: I continue to wonder why you have to break up your reply posts, and I’m sorry for that, and if this means that you again have to break up your reply into two or more posts, that does not violate the spirit of our “agreement”; put up as many as you feel necessary. Thanks again; you have shared some perspectives I had not considered on certain points, and I do appreciate that.

    And hey, now that I’ve finally kept this promise, to write this response, I can begin posting again on my blog without feeling the guilt of “when are you going to finish the gay marriage thing?” I’m going to stay away from that subject for a spell, I think… 🙂

  35. Byron says:

    Blake, I never responded to you, and I wish you had come into the argument sooner, prior to my self-imposed exile. I too appreciate your willingness to rationally discuss this issue, trying to shed light and not just heat on an issue that has had far too much of the latter from both sides. I would say, by the way, that I was right about DADT and troop preparedness–because I supported it! At least I think that’s what you mean…

    To answer just one question you raise, I would phrase the cabbage-cooking issue a little differently than do you. I would not argue that gay marriage per se leads to polygamy; I would simply argue that once you leave the time-honored definition of marriage as being one man/one woman, there would seem to be no logical stopping point between gay marriage and polygamy. I don’t mean to be offensive or “frothy” (and you weren’t, by the way, either that or your “frothy” is pretty mild!) when I say this, but I think you could argue that there are some respects in which polygamy–mutually agreed-upon polygamy, of course, not some subjugation scenario–is closer to traditional marriage than is gay marriage. It certainly has a longer history.

    We will of course agree to disagree on some of these issues, but as I thanked Ken, so I thank you for posting. You seem a genuinely nice guy, and you’re welcome here any time.

  36. ken says:

    Unfortunately, this will have to be broken up 😦

    While it would be correct to say that marriage grew out of procreation, it is incorrect to imply that somehow marriage is necessary for procreation. With marriage came the “presumption of paternity”, i.e. the idea that a husband was the father of any children born by his wife. All children of the wife are considered children of the husband and have all rights (property, inheritance etc) available under the law, unless there was conclusive proof otherwise, like the presence (or absence) of genetic markers (ex: if 2 red-heads marry and the wife has a child with black hair). However, today, this “presumption of paternity” is much less significant (although the courts still recognize it), because for about $50.00 and a couple of cheek swaps you can determine what the biological relationship is between 2 people (parent/child, siblings, extended family etc). So the ancient purpose of using marriage to link a father to his children is pretty much obsolete today. However, this isn’t the only change in marriage that has happened.

    The meaning (or definition) of marriage has changed throughout history. Marriage was originally about property (and inheritance) rights. And in the past, the wife was part of the property in a marriage. Marriages were economic and political arrangements. People married who they were told to marry by their parents, tribal elder, or king. The idea of marrying “for love” is only about 400-500 years old. The notion of marrying outside your social class even newer than that.

    In the US, marriage has changed from something where a woman was basically the property of her husband to something that represents an equal partnership. If you were to go back in time and describe marriage of today to George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, they would think you mad. I imagine they would start laughing when you told them that wives could actually own property, or that wives were considered equal to their husbands. Or that blacks could marry. They might get a little offended when you said whites and blacks could marry each other. However, I don’t think if you then told them that men could marry men or women could marry women, they would stop and say “now you have crossed a line”, but rather say “sure, why not, just one more ridiculous idea to add to your mad concept of marriage”. And it is because of these changes in marriage that gay marriage is possible. Even 50 years ago, the law treated husbands and wives differently. So in order to apply the law, the state had to know who is the husband and who is the wife, thus, same-sex marriage wasn’t possible. Today, since the spouses are viewed as equals under the law the gender of the spouse (wrt to civil marriage) is irrelevant.

    In the US marriage is a fundamental right, as ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in “Skinner v. Oklahoma”, 316 U.S. 535, and re-affirmed several times since (most notably in “Loving v. Virginia”, 388 U.S. 1). As a right, in order for the government (the state) to deny people the right of marriage, it must have a compelling state interest. Thus, when Bob and Alex go to get a marriage license, and the state says “No”, it MUST provide a constitutionally valid reason for denying this couple the right to marry. And claiming, “we enforce the law fairly because we don’t allow either straight men or gay men to marrying other men”, is NOT a constitutionally valid reason. Because this same line of reasoning was used in the Loving decision when the state argued its anti-miscegenation laws were “fair” because whites could only marry whites and blacks could only marry blacks. The SCOTUS saw through this argument and asked “what is the state’s interest in preventing blacks and whites from marrying.” Similarly, the state must show it has a compelling interest in preventing men from marrying men and women from marrying women. To date, I have yet to see such an argument. However, I will address some of the ones I have seen.

    1st, why is the state even involved with marriage? Many argue it has to do with promoting “responsible” procreation. This is just not true. While the state does have an interest in helping parents raise their children (and promoting marriage does that), this is not the primary interest the state has in marriage. This is best shown by the following excerpt from the Arizona state code:

    Title. 25 Chapter 1. Article 1. (AZ 25 101b)

    B. Notwithstanding subsection A, first cousins may marry if both are sixty-five years of age or older or if one or both first cousins are under sixty-five years of age, upon approval of any superior court judge in the state if proof has been presented to the judge that one of the cousins is unable to reproduce.

    This law specifically states that marriage can only occur if procreation is impossible. It clearly shows the state has an interest in marriage other than procreation. And there are many other examples of the state allowing (but not requiring) couples that can’t procreate to marry. And that interest is promoting long-term stable relationships. Because, in general, such relationships are better for the people involved (i.e. the couple, AND their children if they have any) and for society as a whole (mostly because of the aggregate benefit of the individuals involved in the marriages, but in other ways as well, ex: for children needing to be adopted). Further, EVEN IF the states primary interest in marriage was to for procreation (it is not), allowing gays to marry would no more hurt that interest than allowing 1st cousins in AZ to marry or any of the other myriad cases.

  37. ken says:

    Another popular argument against gay marriage is the “slippery slope” to polygamy. The only thing gay marriage and polygamous marriage have in common, is that proponents of either have the same right to demand that the state justify why they cannot marry. In the case of polygamy, the state does have a constitutionally valid reason: because the law cannot create a fair, workable system that would allow such marriages. And as I have said many times before, if someone can propose a fair, workable system I would consider it, but until I see such a system, I stand by my claim that polygamous marriage is unworkable on our society and that is a constitutionally valid reason to deny it.

  38. ken says:

    Then there is the religous argument, i.e., “marriage is a religious institution and you can’t force churches to marry against their religion.” I agree with the last part of this quote. However, the type of marriage referred to in this debate is CIVIL marriage, not religious marriage. No catholic church has ever been force to marry a divorced person, and none will be forced to marry a gay couple. And to those who think their religious marriage (beliefs) somehow trump state marriage, I say: “Not in the US.” You are free to believe what you want and practice your religion as you see fit, however, you are NOT free to impose your religious beliefs onto others. Similarly, while you may personally believe marriage should be life-long, or between a man and a woman, you may also not impose those beliefs on others. Just as you may not stop weekend long marriages in Vegas, simply because you don’t like them, you also can’t stop gay marriage for that reason either.

  39. ken says:

    Finally, a lot of the opponents resort to fear-mongering, insinuating (but never really specifying) dire consequences if we allow gays to marry. Byron did it himself (although not as extreme) with his “you shouldn$-1òùt knock down a fence until you find out why it was put there,” statement. Lets think about that argument. Gays are already living together, building lives together, raising children together, doing pretty much everything married couples do. Yet, somehow if the government tries to help them build or strengthen those relationships, by issuing them marriage licenses, something terrible might happen. Well, bad things HAVE happened to gay couples because they couldn’t marry (the prop 8 trial has several examples of this). That isn’t a theory, it is a reality. And for people to argue that gays should continue to have to struggle with these hardships because of an irrational fear seem pretty unjust to me. Now, to be clear, I’m saying allowing gays to marry will solve all their problems, but it will help.

    This is a lot longer than I thought it would be and I still have more points I could make. Ex: for the “seperate but equal” see my post on Mar 7, 2012 at 2:51 pm. Instead I just want to directly address one other thing Byron wrote.

    He argued that gay rights was not an equal rights issue using the “Gus” and “Gary” example. Lets examine that, however, with a slight change. Instead of Gus and Gary, I’ll use Gus and Gertrude. Gus is a man, Gertrude is a woman. Do Gus and Gertrude have the same “pool of eligible marriage candidates”? No, in fact, they have mutually exclusive pools of candidates. By his argument, they do not have equal rights. And the state is discriminating against them based on the sex of the person. And again, in order for the state to do that it must have a compelling interest.

  40. ken says:

    Further, Byron’s concept of equality is a bit skewed. Lets apply his analysis with Gus and Gary in a slightly different way. Instead of wanting to get married, they just want to have sex. Except the law says that men can only have sex with women (not other men, as the law used to do before Lawrence v. Texas). According to Byron’s analysis since both men have the same pool of potential candidates, they have equal rights and the law is fair. However, any rational person who understands anything about sexual orientation can see that they do not have equal rights, and this law is anything but fair.

    In conclusion, I want to say that gay marriage will happen. 40 years from now, gay marriage will be as common-place as inter-racial marriage. And the people of that generation are going to view the people of today who are opposed to gay marriage? I think they will look back with the same incredulous disdain that the people of this generation look back at those who were opposed to inter-racial marriage 50 years ago.

  41. Blake says:

    Hey Byron,
    Thanks for the shout-out. I wanted to respond to you before I read Ken’s argument, so excuse me if I repeat what’s above.

    Firstly, thanks for moderating this debate. You are truly an exemplar in the culture wars and if more people were willing to listen & reevaluate their arguments the sooner we can put the foolishness of social issues behind us and start living up to the full potential of our country’s founding promise: All people are equal and deserving of the liberty to live their life as they see fit (so long as it does not harm others).

    Finally I still disagree with your definition of marriage, as I understand it.

  42. Blake says:

    As I see it, you say marriage is primarily about regulating sex; I say marriage is primarily about alliance.

    In all of its forms it is always about much more than the people kneeling at the alter or standing before the judge. Marriage entwines two groups in a legal relationship. In the past all law was God’s law so it took on religious trappings but it was always about securing alliances. The duke of wherever was to care about the fate of the prince of wherever because his daughter was a part of their family and vice-versa.

    Even for us peasants marriage is about the joining of two people into one family and hence two families who would otherwise be unrelated are now related and vested in the success or failure of the other family. People may reject the idea that they are vested, but experience will show that a brother-in-law can bring ruin on a family as fast as a brother can (hence the need for prenuptial agreements).

    This much became blatantly apparent to me recently as I attended the wedding of a cousin-in-law. My husbands’ family accepts me as a part of their family while my family does not accept my husband as a full member of my family. While this is not uncommon in any marriage, I think the failure of my family to accept my spouse into the family is due to their refusal to see our relationship as a marriage.

    Similarly my in-laws eloped and there are still old timers who think they’re not married because they didn’t do it in a church & don’t think of their relationship as a marriage.

    When one is accepted into a family one gains access to family privilege: nepotism, the ability to get loans from relatives at favorable rates, standing invitations to all family functions, amongst others. When people cohabit or have a civil union, none of these benefits are required or even implied or if they are extended they are extended on the contingency that they may be retracted at the will of the granting party.

    I can distance myself from my brother’s cohabiting girlfriend by just saying they’re not married. Similarly if as a society we regulate gay relationships into civil unions or domestic partnerships we retain that difference from marriage & relive the family of the obligations implied in a joining.

    Just as Republicans could hide behind Obama’s stance on gay marriage but now can’t, if the state regulates gay marriage people’s excuses for treating their children’s spouses as less than a full member of the family is placed on much more shaky ground.

    Also, I would encourage you to strongly examine that fence (to continue the metaphor). Perhaps the reasons it has been put there are well understood but unpleasant. Our mind has a way of obscuring the unpleasant realities (according to a friend of mine who teaches English as a second language a lot of everyday Chinese don’t think their government is repressive, for example).

    As well thought out and as principled as your arguments are all I hear is something akin to Orwell via Animal Farm: “We’re all equal but some are more equal.”

    Regarding DADT, I was speaking about this: http://www.military.com/news/article/gay-ban-repeal-has-not-hurt-morale-military-leaders-say.html but I may have misread your comment as well. I apologize for putting words in your mouth.

  43. Blake says:

    Finally cabbage. Yes there are parallels between the arguments that gay people ought to have access to the institution of marriage and the arguments that proponents of plural marriage ought to have similar access. But that similarity is only due to the underlying basis of both arguments: Liberty.

    But Liberty is always limited by the harm it may do to others and there very well may be harm committed to society by granting state recognition to a polygamous marriage. But if it is we need to have proof of that harm. Arguments to tradition are as unconvincing in anti-polygamy (and partially undermined by tradition in that case) simply due to the fact that tradition is often unsubstantiated by reality.

    For example Forensic Science is bunk. But we did not know that until DNA testing came along. Still a great many police forces and government institutions base convictions and justice on forensic science due to tradition. Just because they continue to use it does not make it a good science and its use to try to gain a conviction can undermine the case in court (for example, Casey Anthony).

    Tradition has a way of obscuring truth. That’s not to say all traditions are inherently bad, just that when new evidence comes to light traditions should be reexamined critically & if they don’t stand up to muster they should be adjusted or changed to bring them in line with reality.

    So if we allow state recognition of gay relationships and that proves to be not harmful to society (as evidence from Canada seems to say) than we ought to change our institution. & yes, that will make it much more difficult to oppose other forms of marriage, unless, of course, there is evidence (from say South Africa or Saudi Arabia) that polygamy is harmful to society at large.

    Now I’m not an expert on society, but I do trust expert consciousness. From what I understand while both arguments are based on liberty and free will (the ability to peruse happiness we’re all inherently given due to our existence as human beings as laid out in the Deceleration of Independence and as codified in our Constitution) the big difference between Gay Marriage & Polygamy is that gay marriage will not be harmful to society but when it comes to Polygamy the jury’s still out.

    Now should expert consensus (not just one or two voices in the wilderness) reach the conclusion that anti-polygamy positions are based on anti-Mormon or anti-Muslim or anti-African prejudice rather than on the actual harms that polygamous marriages do to society than I would be willing to support polygamy. As I understand it no group of reputable experts has reached such a conclusion & much more study is needed.

    Hence pro-polygamy arguments are similar to pro-gay marriage arguments but only in the same way that pro-gay-marriage arguments are similar to pro-pornography or pro-no-fault-divorce arguments: Liberty! The individual planks that make the final decision plausible or implausible are decidedly different & unique to each issue, while the heart remains the same: Liberty!

    It was always my assumption that the purpose of our Constitution was to ensure Liberty(!) and all of its trappings (wither repugnant to me or not) for future generations.

  44. Byron says:

    Dude…I consider myself a “small l” libertarian, and here you are talking to me about liberty!

    Seriously, to both Ken and Blake, a final word of thanks. You both presented articulate, well-argued positions that, while I do not agree with them, have the distinct merit of not simply being sloganeering or irrelevancies or ad hominems, which has seemed from where I sit to be the coin of the realm. Thanks again, gentlemen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s